Dal Lake makes news once again
The Dal Lake like its beauty and charm is occupying the news shelves once again. This time because the government is mulling to declare the Lake and its surrounding areas as an eco-sensitive zone.
The decision comes after the world famous lake has shrunk to less than half its original size with its capacity down to 40 per cent due to pollution and encroachment. The decision to declare Dal as an eco sensitive zone came after a Committee of Experts (CoE) on Dal and Nageen lakes made the demand for which it will be submitting a final proposal to the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD) by 20th of February.
Soon after the submission of the proposal the recommendations of the committee will be sent to the Centre by February 29 and it is expected that the Dal Lake and its surrounding areas will be declared as eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) by the first week of March.
In November, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had set up a 10-member committee to declare the Dal Lake and its surrounding areas an eco-sensitive zone, following concerns over its shrinking size.
The CoE which comprises former additional chief secretary, government of Kerala, Dr Nivedita P Haran; MD Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd, Dr Mangu Singh; advocate M C Mehta; environmentalist, consultant, and former MD, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, Dr E Sreedharan besides top officials from the J and K administration this week reviewed and discussed the draft notification for declaring the lake and its surroundings as ESZ.
The Dal lake has witnessed massive encroachment, pollution and misuse by the local populace. And this has been happening with the active support of the local government body, (LAWDA) which was assigned to restore the pristine glory of the Dal lake.
Pollution and encroachment have resulted in the Dal Lake shrinking from its original area of 22 square kilometers to about 10 square kilometers, according to an assessment by the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) in 2017.
The DCI assessment also found that intense pollution by untreated sewage and solid wastes that flow into the lake, encroachments of water channels and clogging has diminished the circulation and inflows into the lake, leading to extensive growth of the weed water hyacinth which has emerged as a health hazard.
Further, it was found that the depth of the lake has reduced at many places due to siltation and encroachment, and that continuing night soil discharge from houseboats causes extreme pollution in the water body.
Even after these disclosures the situation did not change. Though the administration even sought the help of the Navy and other experts to tackle issues faced by the water body, but the situation did not improve.
On its part the district administration in Srinagar has also come up with a plan to issue smart cards among the Dal dwellers. But all this seems futile till the 4792 families that are still putting up in the Dal lake are not shifted and the human interference in the lake is not minimized.